Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) first iPhone that launched in 2007 was nothing short of a masterpiece. The first "real" smartphone was so well thought out and beyond its time that it took competitors years before they could develop an acceptable alternative. Device makers tried and tried to no avail, but in 2011, Apple finally found its first worthy adversary after a challenger started thinking differently. Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) recognized that if it copied Apple, it could never end up with anything better than an iPhone, so the company stopped. Instead, the Korean device maker went with larger displays and high-performance specs to create a new breed of customers.
Samsung succeeded and its large-screen phones captivated millions of iPhones all while changing the entire industry. Users are now craving for a big-screen iPhone and once Apple fills this gap, millions of customers will start making up there way back, essentially leaving little to no reason for owning any other high-end smart phone.
Thinking differently was undoubtedly a world-changing trait of Steve Jobs. Instead of figuring out how to make things better, he focused on reinventing. With the entire industry placing all their efforts on creating alternatives to the iPhone, they eventually came well within the range of acceptable. However, they were still copying the iPhone and never came up with anything better until Samsung started to do things differently.
In April of 2011, during the iPhone 4s era, Samsung launched the Galaxy S2 with a large 4.3" display. This was much bigger than the iPhone's 3.5" display, and customers liked it. The Korean device maker took it further and slapped a 4.8" display on the succeeding S3. The S3 launched before the iPhone 5 and the high performance specs with the larger display were just enough for people to upgrade early and take the leap over to Android. As a result, people fell in love with big screens and Samsung sold millions; eventually, every phone maker except Apple had adopted the new standard.
Apple is answering the call
While some people aren't interested in bigger phones, this is a huge opportunity for Apple to slam the brakes on Samsung among others. While the Galaxy S3 was a remarkable leap from the S2, the S4 was only a slight bump from the S3, and the S5 was hardly an improvement over the S4. The fact that Samsung was selling the S5 at a 2-for-1 promo shortly after its debut is evidence of this. The point here is that innovation is fading, and as seen during the last quarter, big screens weren't enough to stop Apple from breaking its non-holiday season sales record for the iPhone.
People are starting to realize that Google's Android is a buggy, malware-filled, and confusing operating system that can't even run Google Maps as smoothly as an iPhone. However, people put up with it for big screens and Android's market share grew immensely as seen in the chart below. If you view the chart after May of 2012, when the Galaxy S3 was released, you can see the chart steadily spike upwards at an extreme rate. The Galaxy S3 sold over 30 million units by the end of the year. While this isn't amazing, it really drove the Android platform and helped it compete with iPhone.
4.7 inches is the perfect screen size
While I absolutely adore the gorgeous 5-inch display on my Samsung Galaxy S4, I find navigating the entire screen with one hand a bit difficult even though I have larger hands. However, I would also find it difficult to settle with a significantly smaller screen like the 4" iPhone 5.
If you look at the mockups below from TechSmartt's YouTube video, the size difference in the 4.7" model appears to be more of a slight adjustment over an uncomfortable increase despite the significantly bigger screen. That being said, the 4.7-inch model will likely be perfect and widely loved by the majority, and the occasional phablet lover you find here will be very pleased with the much bigger 5.5" alternative.
I firmly believe that the iPhone 6 will pull in record sales and the bigger displays will likely play a major role. With improved performance, a larger Sapphire-protected display, and an upcoming Mac-iPhone integration that's unseen in any other ecosystem, the iPhone 6 will simply be well-positioned to dominate and improve Apple's smart phone market share.
Sean Chandler has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.